Consumer Reports tests best luggage to last a lifetime

Your checklist for a good piece of luggage is probably pretty simple -- it should hold what you need and be tough enough to survive the baggage claim when you have to check it.

If your current suitcase doesn't measure up, a new Consumer Reports survey might be able to help you pick a brand before you pack.

Baggage can take a real beating getting from here to there.

Luggage salesman Sal Carino says durability is a top priority for his customers.

"People are willing to pay a premium for a product that will arrive intact," says Sal Carino.

Split seams, or broken zippers, wheels, or handles can mean the next trip for that bag is to the garbage dump.

If you want a bag that will last, Consumer Reports members can help, revealing important information about the luggage they own.

Briggs & Riley and Eagle Creek were two of the top-rated brands for durability for both checked and carry-on bags.

They also got high marks in the Consumer Reports survey for ease of packing and stowability.

Another bonus with these brands -- they are among those that offer lifetime warranties.

"Lifetime warranties can offer some peace of mind. But you need to remember that they do come with limitations and that 'lifetime' may not mean your lifetime," says Kevin Doyle.

For instance, with Eagle Creek the warranty applies to what the company says is the lifetime of the bag.

Also, with some manufacturers, including Away, the warranty will not apply if you are not the original owner.

Cosmetic damage is also generally not covered.

"Even if the bag is covered under warranty, the company will likely repair it. If they do replace the bag they may give you a different color or even a completely different model from the one that you purchased," says Kevin Doyle from Consumer Reports.

In addition to durability, Sal Carino says it's important to consider the size and weight of the bag.

Some airlines require carry-ons to be 18 pounds or less for the lowest priced flights.

No matter how sturdy your luggage is, over time it will start to show its age, with little dings and scrapes, which are generally not covered under lifetime warranties.

Two ways to keep your checked bag looking new is to either have it wrapped in plastic for the trip or use a removable cover.

But, keep in mind that officials may unwrap the bag if they decide to inspect it.
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